National Newswatch

MONTREAL — The Quebec government says fully vaccinated residents who have received the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine can receive a third dose of an mRNA vaccine before travelling. 

Public health officials are offering the extra shot because some countries don't recognize the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine made at the Serum Institute of India. But officials warned Monday it's up to the recipient to seek advice and weigh the risks before getting a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

A spokesman for the Health Department said in an email Monday a third dose doesn't necessarily provide more protection compared with two doses, adding that the safety of receiving two shots of AstraZeneca and an mRNA vaccine is unclear.

Robert Maranda says there are no studies that assess the impact of receiving three doses of two separate vaccines. "The person should be properly counselled to be informed of the potential risks associated with this added dose compared to the benefits of the planned trip," he wrote.

"It is up to everyone to weigh the balance of risks and benefits."

Quebec reported 75 new cases of COVID-19 Monday along with 223 new infections from Friday and Saturday. The province has 814 active reported cases. Health officials reported one death attributed to the novel coronavirus since Friday's report, and they said the number of patients in hospital with COVID-19 was 67 — stable since Friday.

Meanwhile, Premier François Legault announced on Monday his government is relaxing more rules for bars, nightclubs, festivals and entertainment venues. 

Legault said on Twitter that beginning Sunday, bars and nightclubs can serve alcohol for an extra hour, until 1 a.m., and they must close by 2 a.m. Festivals will be able to host a maximum of 15,000 people outside — up from 5,000. Indoor venues will be permitted to welcome a maximum of 7,500 people seated indoors, up from 3,500. Dancing, however, remains prohibited.

Quebec's public health institute says 83.5 per cent of residents aged 12 and up have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 62.5 per cent are considered adequately vaccinated. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 26, 2021.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

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